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Compare airline credit cards

Earn reward flights and get access to airport lounges with the right airline credit card.

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Compare airline credit cards

Many airlines offer cobranded credit cards with airline-specific perks. If you fly with different carriers, you might like a general travel card instead.

Name Product Welcome offer Rewards Annual fee Filter values
United℠ Explorer Card
40,000 miles after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months
2x miles at restaurants, hotels and United and 1.5x miles on all other purchases
$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card
35,000 miles after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
2x miles on Delta purchases, restaurants and at US supermarkets and 1x miles on all other purchases
$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($99 thereafter)
With a welcome offer worth up to $600, up to 2x miles on select purchases, and assorted Delta perks, this is a strong choice for Delta fans. Rates & fees
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months, a value of up to $750 through Chase Ultimate Rewards
5x points on Lyft, 2x points on travel and dining and 1x points on all other purchases
$95
Earn a signup bonus worth $750 with this popular travel card. Combine with other Chase Ultimate Rewards cards for even greater value.
Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi
N/A
4% at gas stations on up to $7,000 annually (then 1%), 3% at restaurants and on travel, 2% at Costco and 1% on all other purchases
$0
Get 3% back on your travel and dining purchases with no foreign transaction fees and use the card for your Costco membership.
Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card
10,000 miles after spending $500 in the first 3 months
2x miles at restaurants and on direct Delta purchases and 1x miles on all other purchases
$0
Earn 2x miles on Delta purchases and dining with this simple, entry-level Delta card, and pay no annual fee. Rates & fees
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Let’s break down how airline credit cards work

An airline credit card typically offers rewards for airline purchases, usually in the form of airline miles. You can redeem these miles on flights or other related purchases, such as seat upgrades.

Airline cards tend to come in two varieties: cobranded cards that are associated with a specific airline, and general airline cards. A cobranded card usually offers more perks or earning potential for that specific airline, which can play a significant role in how you pick an airline card.

Compare & apply for a card

Look at cobranded and general airline cards that fit your airline preferences and apply like normal.

Earn miles

Once you receive your card, use it on categories that earn you the most miles. Cobranded cards tend to reward the most miles for purchases made with that specific airline.

Redeem miles

Once you’ve earned enough miles for a flight, you can book one through your credit card account or the frequent flyer program associated with your credit card.

When is an airline credit card worth it?

An airline credit card isn’t worth it for every traveler. However, you might find them worth a spot in your pocket for a few reasons:

  • You favor a specific airline. If you prefer a specific airline over others, you might be an ideal candidate for a cobranded airline card. These cards tend to have more generous perks and rewards than general airline cards.
  • You travel heavy. If you’re always checking bags when you fly, an airline credit card can save you hundreds of dollars over the year.
  • You don’t want other rewards. An airline credit card is a better pick than a general travel card if you plan on only reinvesting your rewards back into travel.
  • You’re interested in elite status. Some airline credit cards can help you reach the next tier of an airline’s elite program faster.
  • You want a companion pass. Many of the best airline cards available offer companion passes, either as a welcome offer or on each card anniversary. These passes are worth hundreds of dollars.
  • You regularly use the card. A card with all manner of perks isn’t worth it if you don’t use that card on a regular basis – especially if the card requires an annual fee.

If one or more of these reasons don’t line up with your travel or spending preferences, you might consider searching for a general travel credit card instead.

You asked, we listened: Top 5 common questions

With so many airline credit cards to choose from, it’s only natural to have some questions. Here are the 5 most common questions we receive on the subject.

  1. How much are credit card airline miles worth? The ultimate value of an airline mile can vary greatly depending on the specific loyalty program and how you redeem your miles.
  2. Can I get an airline credit card with bad credit? Most airline credit cards require a good or better credit score. However, you can still use another type of credit card for your airline purchases.
  3. What kinds of airline cards are there? Airline credit cards come in two varieties: cobranded, which are released under the umbrella of a specific airline, and general, which can be used on any airline.
  4. Do I need a frequent flyer number to use an airline card? Only if you’re using a cobranded credit card. These cards need to be linked to your frequent flyer number to generate miles and provide rewards.
  5. What’s the difference between airline credit cards and travel credit cards? Airline credit cards generate miles and offer rewards specifically for flights. Travel credit cards offer general “points” that can be used on airlines as well as other travel options, such as hotels and cruises.

Read more about airline credit cards

Sarah Barness

Sarah Barness
Credit Cards Editor

Hi, I’m Sarah! Since I often visit family that lives 3,000 miles away, having a great airline card in my wallet is a must. I look for cards without annual fees and simple rewards structures to earn points for my airline of choice. I love comparing airline cards to find the best options. Here are some articles that might answer the questions you have.

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  • Paul Rose
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Steven Brown
  • Steven Brown
  • Professor Emeritus of Marketing
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Bottom line

If you want to earn flexible points or miles on flights, consider a general travel credit card. If you’re loyal to a certain airline, you might like a cobranded card.

Not sure if an airline card is right for you? Check out our guide to travel credit cards for more options.

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Our team evaluates credit cards to determine their value against similar cards on the market.

We rank card types — travel, cash back, business — on a set of factors that are most relevant to that type of card. We create these rankings to help you narrow down a credit card that best suits your spending and budget.

Learn the details of our methodology and scoring.

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